Sunday, January 02, 2011

January at the Gym: The Attack of the Resolutionaries

Amusing article, that will immediately ring true to all veteran exercisers. I think the point below captures a truth about gyms:
Humans have a need for rituals and routine. Humans in gyms display this need in a hyper-developed, 'roidy kind of way, which makes sense: The gym is the place we go to control one of the few things in life we can control (dumpiness) and so it becomes the place where we become the people who try to control everything else (diva-ness!). The gym is a microcosmic symbol for how splendidly the world could work, if only everyone would wait their turn, properly hydrate and remember to wipe down whatever they touched with a lemony Pine-Sol solution.
My own personal peeve--which does not apply exclusively to newbies--relates to waiting for machines. There is a certain body language that one needs to exhibit, to indicate that one is waiting for a machine. It needs to be subtle, so as not to inappropriately crowd the person currently on the machine (unless of course they are resting between sets, in which case they are breaking the rules and being unfair themselves, and deserve to have pressure applied--up to and including crossing the non-verbal barrier, of being asked outright "okay if I work in?"). But it needs to be clear enough to inform the sequencing decision of other patrons. It is frustrating to think you are next in line for a machine, only to have someone come flying from across the gym to claim it. There is an instinctive art that most people seem to grasp, but a few are either unconsciously or willfully oblivious to. Here is a list to help them:

Do's and Dont's:

  1. Don't rest between sets. Ever. Even if the gym seems empty, discipline yourself to clear off the machine, to give others a chance to work in. Don't make them ask.
  2. As a corollary, don't "guard" the machine. This involves complying with the letter of the law, by getting up off the machine, but violating its spirit, by hovering so close that another person can not gracefully access the machine.
  3. Do realize that proximity is very important. You can't signify you are waiting for a machine if you are across the gym.
  4. Direction is also important. You need to be generally facing the machine you want, and without staring, you need to let you glance drift toward it occasionally. 
  5. Which brings up the next rule--while waiting, be aware of others. If you sense that they are trying to evaluate whether there is a wait for it, you need to give off clear signals that you are in line. But not aggressively. Your operating assumption should be that they are not competitors who must be actively deterred, but rather rule-abiding fellow exercisers of goodwill, who, like you, are merely seeking to optimize their time.
  6. You absolutely can't be waiting for one machine while you are on another. Not even if they are right next to each other. (A possible exception--some gyms may try to set a priority for those who work in sequence. In my opinion, this is both undesirable--because different people have different ideas of the proper sequence--and just leads to disputes. But if it is the posted letter of the law at your gym, you should respect it.)
  7. Don't exercise in packs. It isn't fair for 2-4 people to monopolize a machine by trading off sets. (Note: this probably varies with the culture of the gym, in hardcore, male-oriented facilities this may be the norm. You will know if you are in the wrong place.)

1 comment:

  1. Agree, except for the part about resting between sets. In the time it takes me to rest between stets, I could just about sign out of the machine and the next person would still be adjusting the settings and weight. So I don't see it as a big imposition to rest between sets (I only ever do 2).